American Chronic Pain Association Release: Response To Reports On Sleep Disorder Treatments A Serious Issue For People With Chronic Pain

ROCKLIN, Calif., March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Imagine what it would be like to have a headache that never went away. A sore back that prevented you from making any plans. Think about how you would handle numbness in your arms that makes it impossible to do the simplest daily activities. What's more, pain is invisible and cannot be measured in any way. Your life has become controlled by your pain. Sleep is difficult if not impossible yet necessary to your overall wellbeing and coping mechanism. Many people with pain struggle to get a few uninterrupted quality hours of sleep. There are more than 86 million Americans who deal with these issues each day. Their pain takes away their ability to live a "normal" life.

Recent news about rare side effects associated with some sleep medications have the unfortunate effect of alarming people with pain who depend on such aids to restore normal sleep patterns, a key to one's ability to manage daily pain. Like all medications and therapies used by people with pain, sleep medications are one of the many tools necessary to help people cope. These medicines are widely considered to be safe and effective. Individuals should be aware that, like all medications, side effects may occur in a minority of people who take them. Concerns about any medication should be discussed with your health care provider before discontinuing. We are concerned that people with pain might panic and stop taking their medication before they talk to their health care provider. Stopping any medication abruptly carries risk. People with pain need to be part of the treatment team and share in the decision making on any treatment or therapy.

People suffering from sleep disorders need to know that there are effective treatments. The ACPA encourages people who experience sleep disorders to talk to their doctors about the best treatment for them. We also encourage people with pain who are currently taking sleep medications to do the following:

1. Talk with their doctor about any concerns they have. Tell him or her about any problems or side effects experienced with your medication. 2. Read the patient information carefully and educate yourself about the side effects. 3. Take the medication only as directed. For more information, please visit our website There are a number of things that you can do to improve your sleep: 1. Exercise: Vigorous physical exercise in the afternoon or early evening (NOT close to bedtime) has been shown to increase the portion of time spent in the deepest stages of sleep. So you may not sleep more, but you will probably sleep better if you exercise. 2. Schedule: It is important to set the same time for bed every night and stick to it rigidly. It may help to prepare yourself for bed with a bedtime ritual, such as a bath, a glass of milk, etc. at the same time each night. Then you should set a wake-up time and stick to this, no matter how little you have slept the night before. It's very tempting to "sleep in" when you've been awake half the night before, but this only increases the chances that you won't sleep well the following night. 3. Naps: Usually naps increase the problem of insomnia. They should generally be avoided by those with insomnia until their sleep has become regulated. On the other hand, a 20-minute period of napping, meditation, relaxation exercises, etc. can help to reduce the tensions of the day for many and can enable them to resume tasks with renewed energy. 4. Stimulants: No coffee or tea after dinner. Also, until you're sure you are not affected by them, avoid chocolate (caffeine), decongestants, etc., in the evening. 5. Don't Fight It: Many people drive themselves into a near frenzy rolling and tossing all night in a futile effort to force sleep. Make a rule for yourself that if you aren't asleep after 15 minutes, leave the room and do something restful. Knitting is good, as are such things as jigsaw puzzles, quiet radio shows, etc. but they should not be done in the bedroom. Mystery shows, Hitchcock stories, etc. are off limits. Not only do they cause adrenalin to flow, but they're hard to leave. When you begin to feel drowsy (no human is capable of staying awake forever) then return to bed. If you're still awake in 15 minutes, leave the room again. 6. Bedrooms Are for Sleeping: And loving. Nothing else. Using the room for paying bills, doing homework, arguing, etc., can prevent the room from being a comfortable refuge in which you can automatically relax.

American Chronic Pain Association

CONTACT: Penney Cowan, Executive Director of American Chronic PainAssociation, +1-916-632-0922,

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